July 2010 – “Beyond this world there is a world I want.”

“…Our emphasis is not on giving up the world, but on exchanging it for what is far more satisfying, filled with joy, and capable of offering you peace. Think you this world can offer that to you?” ACIM, Workbook page 235, Lesson 129.

It may seem to some that A Course in Miracles is asking us to sacrifice a lot-all that is familiar, safe and comfortable. But all it is really asking us to do is to awaken from the dream of life in this world. And do we really think that life, as we know it, is safe and comfortable? At any point we could be struck down by a fatal disease; lose a loved one; be made redundant; have an accident; lose all our savings, etc. We are, indeed, vulnerable in the world of the ego, and we spend all our time trying to overcome this by working hard, saving money, planning for the future. But in the end, regardless of all our plans, we grow old and eventually die. This is a world of change, impermanence and decay.

As we read in Lesson 129, “….The world you see is merciless indeed, unstable, cruel, unconcerned with you, quick to avenge and pitiless with hate. It gives but to rescind, and takes away all things that you have cherished for a while. No lasting love is found, for none is here. This is the world of time, where all things end.

It may seem rather depressing to discover the fact that our bodies and the world are illusory, created by the ego as a replacement for God. But then the thought of a world that is, “…filled with joy, and capable of offering you peace…” should give us hope and courage. This world that Jesus is referring to is the “real world“, a world of beauty and forgiveness where, “….love endures forever, hate cannot exist and vengeance has no meaning. Is it loss to find all things you really want, and know they have no ending and they will remain exactly as you want them throughout time?

So how do we get to the real world? Or how do we awaken to the real world? TheCourse tells us that we have to really believe that our world is an illusion. “….All that you need to give this world away in glad exchange for what you did not make is willingness to learn the one you made is false.” ACIM, Text, p. 254.Then the next step is to lose interest in the things of this world and set our sights on the real world. “….Here is the world that comes to take its place, as you unbind your mind from little things the world sets forth to keep you prisoner. Value them not, and they will disappear. Esteem them, and they will seem real to you. Such is the choice. What loss can be for you in choosing not to value nothingness?” ACIM, Workbook, p. 235. Nothingness is how Jesus refers to the things we value in the world created by the ego. Losing nothingness is really losing nothing at all.

Perhaps the most important step of all, in our quest for the real world, is forgiveness. “The real world is attained simply by the complete forgiveness of the old, the world you see without forgiveness….For forgiveness literally transforms vision, and lets you see the real world reaching quietly and gently across chaos, removing all illusions that had twisted your perception and fixed it on the past…” ACIM, Text, p. 353.

We must remember that we are all consumed with guilt. This is the ego’s doing, as it believes that it conquered God and created the world as a place of refuge and a replacement for heaven. This engendered feelings of guilt and of fear-fear of the wrath of God. Kenneth Wapnick, the renowned teacher of ACIM, explains this very succinctly in his book, Ending our Resistance to Love. On page 37, speaking of the ego’s belief that it had killed God (at the time when the mind first split into right mind and wrong mind), he states, “….Believing in horror that we had actually committed what to us was a savagely sinful act (though clearly impossible), we made the non-existent problem of sin real, and became overwhelmed with self-hatred and guilt. The pain of that became so unbearable we had no psychological recourse but to deny the guilt-ridden thing, run away from it, make up a world and body, thereby concealing not only the guilt but the mind itself….” Then he explains that we perpetuate this original problem by projecting our self-hate onto those we live and work with.

If we can replace our feelings of sinfulness, self-hate and guilt with forgiveness-both towards ourselves and others, and if we ask the Holy Spirit to help us return to our “right minds”, then we are making progress towards the real world. Kenneth Wapnick explains the mechanism of forgiveness, on page 38 of the above-mentioned book, like this: “….If, with Jesus’ help, I can undo my specialness with you-my special hate and special love-I am undoing all the interferences between me and God, for they are one…. Thus, the way I learn to forgive God and love Him is to forgive you.

Finally, upon completion of all our forgiveness lessons, when we, with the help of the Holy Spirit or Jesus, awaken from the dream, we will find ourselves in this world of joy and peace-the real world. But we won’t be there for very long, as the real world is just a stone’s throw away from heaven. “….The perception of the real world will be so short that you will barely have time to thank God for it. For God will take the last step swiftly, when you have reached the real world and have been made ready for Him.” ACIM, Text, p.353. In other words, the real world is the gateway to heaven. But, in order to get there, we have to truly believe in and aspire to what is taught in Lesson 129: “The world I see holds nothing that I want. Beyond this world there is a world I want.” ACIM, Workbook, p. 236.

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